Building stronger societes
View this email in a browser July 2019
News from Luminate
Supporting journalists and protecting press freedom

This month’s Global Conference for Media Freedom hosted by the UK and Canadian governments brought together delegations from over 100 countries, including 60 ministers, and more than 1,500 journalists, academics, campaigners, and philanthropists to discuss how we can work together to support journalists and protect media freedom around the world.  Ahead of the gathering, Nishant Lalwani, Director of Independent Media, laid out three crucial and complementary actions that could be taken by attendees and published an op-ed in The Guardian proposing a $1bn international fund for public interest media. Following the conference, Nishant reflected on the three things we need to do next to defend media freedom. He shared more on our perspective on independent media and press freedom in a series of videos.

Philanthropy provides unique flexibility to support press freedom, enabling organisations to expand and become self-sustaining, protecting journalists and detering governments from viewing them as easy targets, and facilitating the invaluable collaboration of individuals and organisations appropriate for a global age. In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day in May, CEO Stephen King published an op-ed on the role of philanthropy in protecting press freedom in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. He also spoke with Devex about the need not only for more funding but also a mix of grants and investments and better coordination among supporters of media.

Africans need a Bill of Data Rights to protect them online
Managing Director Ory Okolloh and Senior Advisor Sharon Wekwete examined how a Bill of Data Rights could help to prevent governments and corporations from overstepping their boundaries by articulating the rights and freedoms of people in digital spaces.
Upholding our data & digital rights
We’re committed to ensuring the rights of people and communities are upheld in the design and use of data and technology. Managing Director Martin Tisné shared the evolution of our Data & Digital Rights work and our focus on three complementary areas: open data, privacy, and artificial intelligence. 
How can we improve our funding processes to better serve investees?
We worked with Simply Secure to better understand our investees’ experiences with our funding process and to learn what we could do to improve it. Read their insights and recommendations in a new report, On Trust & Transparency.
Launching our portfolio database
Last month we published a searchable, sortable, downloadable database listing our current portfolio. In the coming months, we'll add historical grants and investments to the site.
U.S. civic tech, ten years in
Director Alissa Black and Principal McKenzie Smith highlighted findings from a Dalberg report which identified and analysed trends and lessons from the last decade of U.S. civic tech and shared implications for our work going forward.
The evolution of the open data field
Last year we commissioned Dalberg to examine the evolution of open data to help inform our own strategy and provide insight for the broader open data community. Principal Laura Bacon shared implications for the future of the open data ecosystem and our work.
Advancing our understanding of the impacts of algorithmic systems
Associate Salmana Ahmed reflected on this year’s ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency. Its main objective was to foster and highlight academic research that advances our understanding of the potentially discriminatory impact of algorithmic systems, the challenges of holding these systems and their developers and operators to account, and the increased information asymmetries that often accompany their adoption.
New Media Ventures casts a wide net to defend democracy in the U.S.
In the wake of growing divisions and attempts to limit people’s ability to participate in the democratic process, now is a time to double down on supporting those with a bold vision for positive change. Senior Advisor Jackie Mahendra wrote more about why we renewed our support to New Media Ventures, which invests in companies working to shift power, build movements, change narratives, and spark civic engagement.
Using legal aid and strategic litigation to promote press freedom
Deepa Iyer, Associate, shared more on our recent investment in Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), as part of our efforts to support independent media around the world and strengthen press freedom. MLDI provides legal aid to journalists, bloggers, and independent media organisations globally that are tackling legal assaults, which are often intended as major operational and financial distractions from their mission.
Tackling digital threats to democracy around the world
Awareness of the threat that technology and social media pose to democracy has grown, but little attention has been paid to the harm that tech is doing in places more vulnerable to the dangers of social media than the U.S. Senior Advisor David Madden explained why we invested in Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Brazil, Digital Africa Research Lab in Nigeria, and MAFINDO in Indonesia.
News from Investees

Africa Check won the 2019 Fact Forward Innovation Fund award for “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?,” a voice note show created in partnership with Volume to fight mis/disinformation spread on WhatsApp. recently turned 5 and released a video highlighting accomplishments from its community of over 250,000 people. 

Congratulations to BudgIT’s Uadamen Ilevbaoje and CODE’s Lucky Chambers Umezulike who were 
named to the list of 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Programme, a year-long initiative to inspire, empower, and connect 200 emerging leaders from across Africa. CODE’s Follow the Money initiative, also won a 2019 United Nations SDG Action Award.

Through public records requests, the
Center for Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law uncovered that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were scanning driver’s license photos using facial recognition technology. Argentina launched its platform 'Elecciones 2019' and was featured in one of Argentina's leading newspapers 'La Nación', which highlighted the project's momentum with petitions directed at the candidates who have gathered over 100,000 signatures. 

Chequeado launched Reverso, a new project which will fight misinformation ahead of the 2019 Elections in Argentina in partnership with 117 media operators in Argentina, including all national broadcasting channels.

Code for America launched their 2019 Community Fellowship Program, which will 
partner with seven local governments across the U.S. The program will closely integrate the fellows with its network of hyper-local brigades.

The Correspondent has hired Eliza Anyangwe as its first Managing Editor. 

Forbidden Stories launched Green Blood, an investigation into journalists who have been targeted for their stories on the environment. They also recently won the Special Award at European Press Prize for efforts to continue and publish the work of journalists facing threats, prison, or murder.

Iniciativa Latinoamericana de Datos Abierto (ILDA) played a pivotal role in the development of the Interamerican Open Data Program to Fight Corruption, recently announced by the OAS.

Solitary Voices, a new investigation from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed widespread misuse and overuse of solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers. ICIJ found that immigration authorities have used the practice to isolate thousands of the most vulnerable detainees for weeks and months at a time.

Katiba Institute had a big win in their court case in which they were supporting Lamu residents to prevent a planned $2 billion coal plant that would have had a negative impact on human and marine life in the area. 

Media Monitoring Africa released their report on the quality of media coverage during the 2019 elections in South Africa, and they received an honourable mention in the official election results ceremony for their role in ensuring free and fair elections.

Nieman Lab highlighted Membership Puzzle Project’s research and its funding of other news organisations’ experiments to implement membership.

After receiving more than 500 applications,
New Media Ventures announced its 2019 Open Call Finalists. The 33 selected organisations include a range of frontline organising groups, progressive tech ventures, new media startups, and democracy infrastructure organizations.

Open Contracting Partnership launched Open Contracting Lift, a new program offering support to contracting practitioners who are working to improve the quality of a public good, work, or service through contracting, and could use some expert and peer help. The competitive program offers 14 months of extensive, integrated assistance from technical experts and peers who’ve faced similar challenges. Apply by August 12.

The Brazilian Supreme Court recently ruled that homophobia is a crime after a joint campaign run by our storytelling grantee Quebrando o Tabú and LGBTQ+ rights organization AllOut. The campaign focused on producing and publishing digital stories about Brazilians who had been the victims of homophobia, as a mechanism to collect online signatures. Thanks to the wide reach of Quebrando o Tabú's social media channels, the campaign was able to collect 680,000 citizens' signatures calling on the Supreme Court to extend protections to the LGBTQ+ community.

Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) won a case to access information about interventions to private communications, real-time geolocalisation, and personal data, including in cases deemed of 'public security'. This decision sets an important precedent in favor of transparency in Mexico.

Following a Freedom of Information request from SERAP, the federal high court in Lagos delivered a landmark judgment ordering the release of details of payments to all defaulting electricity contractors.

Unite Us partnered with Kaiser Permanente to launch Thrive Local, which will connect a curated network of local social services organisations with health care providers through Unite Us’ platform.

Where you can find us
World Economic Forum on Africa (4-6 September)
Ory Okolloh will join more than 1,000 regional and global leaders from politics, business, civil society, and academia in Cape Town for discussions on how to shape inclusive growth and shared futures across the continent.
Media Party (22-24 August)
Gabriela Hadid will attend Media Party, which gathers more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, journalists, developers, and designers from five continents to work together for the future of media, in Buenos Aires. 
Good Governance Forum (11 September)
The Forum, hosted by the Aspen Institute Kyiv, is designed to allow leaders to exchange ideas on how to nurture democratic governance and develop solutions to common problems related to digital technologies in the region. Olena Boytsun will moderate the opening panel on democratic governance in the digital age.
New Media Ventures Summit (18 September)
The U.S. team will be attending the New Media Ventures Summit in San Francisco, where they hope to meet with and learn from entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo and changing the rules of the game.
Kyiv Smart City Forum (1 October)
Olena Boystun will join government and public representatives, entrepreneurs, experts, and urbanists to discuss shared experiences and best practices around the smart cities ecosystem. 
ComNet (2-4 October)
Barb Mickits will be attending ComNet in Austin to learn from other leaders working in communications for good.
Athens Democracy Forum (9-11 October)
Ory Okolloh will be speaking at the Athens Democracy Forum, which brings senior New York Times journalists together with international business leaders, policy makers, academics and experts to discuss the state of democracy and what action it requires in the face of mounting challenges. Stephen King is also attending the event. 
Luminate Jobs
Head of Information Technology | London
Responsible for the management, administration, and maintenance of Luminate's IT operational systems, including oversight of systems and data availability, integrity, and security. 

Finance & Operations Director | Washington, DC
Ownership of all management, financial and tax reporting, and governance of the newly divested business with a global footprint.

Associate | Singapore
Support the process of building a healthy pipeline and portfolio of non-profit and for-profit investments in Southeast Asia and assist in the diligence process to make investments and award grants.
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